LEXING: Linguists in Industry, Non-profits, and Government

Call for Proposals

The LSA is seeking proposals for the inaugural meeting of LEXING: A symposium for Linguists in Industry, Non-profits, and Government (and other sectors), to be held as a track within the 2025 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, which will take place in person January 9-12. LEXING will consist of a series of linked sessions highlighting insights from and expertise engaged beyond traditional academic settings. 

Proposals may center linguistic research and related work done outside of a university setting or work done in partnership between linguists in higher education and other types of institutions; they may present case studies of how linguistic knowledge has helped practitioners make better decisions, improve existing processes or systems, solve a business problem, or otherwise inform their work; they may suggest panel or discussion topics; they may focus on science communication, advocacy, or other public-facing work; or they outline ways in which linguistic training has shaped one’s career trajectory in general or specific projects or products in particular. 

Deadline for submitting proposals: August 18, 2024, AOE (anywhere on earth).

Categories of Presentations

This call for proposals covers three categories of sessions and presentations at LEXING: fishbowl conversations, 20-minute talks, and 5-minute lightning talks. Submitters should be aware that, unlike in the LSA’s academic program, the organizers of LEXING will provide accepted presenters with additional curation and support, especially for Fishbowl and Lightning Talk proposals. Because some LEXING session types will be new to many linguists, we aim to work collaboratively to provide support to ensure the success of each session. 

Fishbowl Conversations

In contrast to an academic organized session in which each speaker presents their own research, fishbowls are lively discussions focused on a given topic, taking place among a group of participants with diverse perspectives on an identified topic. The fishbowl format is a way of structuring a conversation on a single topic with a larger group than would typically be possible. The fishbowl room contains five chairs in the center and a second, larger circle of chairs around them. When the fishbowl panel begins, four central chairs are occupied by the panelists and the moderator, and one chair is empty. The audience is seated in the outer circle of chairs. At any point, an audience member who has something to add to the conversation can indicate this by moving to the empty chair in the center, from which they can naturally join the conversation at a relevant point or be invited to do so by the moderator. There must be an empty chair in the center at all times, so when the fifth chair becomes occupied, one of the people seated in the center gets up and moves to the outer circle, leaving an empty chair that someone else will eventually occupy, and so on. The original panelists thus seed a conversation and gradually rotate out of it, although they may also rotate back in as the conversation continues. Importantly, there are no "questions from the audience" in the fishbowl format: if someone seated in the outer circle has a question, they are urged by the moderator to join the inner circle for a while, encouraging back-and-forth discussion of complex issues. People seated in the outer circle may remain audience members who don't participate, but it is expected that about half of a 30-person room would likely take a turn in the inner circle at some point.  

Fishbowls are well-suited to topics where many people in the room are likely to have relevant contributions rather than a few "sages on the stage" presenting information. Potential topics include questions of praxis, such as interdisciplinary collaboration, career development, and the use of particular research tools and methods, as well as critical engagements that problematize aspects of the discipline and/or the profession and "talking shop" among practitioners with varying experiences on a topic. For example:

  • Explaining linguistics to non-linguists
  • The things they never taught you in grad school
  • How can linguistics support DEI in the workplace?
  • There are clear problems with AI hype from a linguist perspective, but how do we talk about those problems to people who don't have that background?
  • Navigating being the only linguist on a project team
  • Staying in touch with linguistic research without the structures of academia

20 Minute Talks

We invite contributions in the standard 20 minute talk + 10 minute Q&A format, presenting work substantially taking place outside of traditional academic settings. Talks may present original research (similar to regular LSA talks) and/or highlight the use of expertise and ideas from linguistics in a particular setting, including in case studies or position papers. 

Unlike “traditional” research talks, 20 minute talks in this track may additionally or alternatively focus on application to products or processes at scale, to combining business with scientific considerations, to the development of linguistically-informed ideas or insights over time, or other occasions in the professional life of the presenter when a linguistically-informed approach came into play. 

Some suggested topics may include: 

  • Natural Language applications, including Large Language Models, in industry or other practical settings
  • Ethics, inclusivity, or responsible AI approaches to language products or language teaching
  • Linguistically-motivated User Experience or Design work
  • Community-based, ethnographically or sociolinguistically informed survey design
  • Linguistically-informed approaches to science communication 
  • Language-related diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives 
  • Linguistics in the criminal justice system

5 Minute Lightning Talks

Inspired by the popular Five-Minute Linguist event, as well as “Ignite” and “PechaKucha” events that take place in other settings, this event features industry, government, nonprofit, and freelance linguists giving very short, lively, and engaging presentations about their work and perspectives in a manner accessible to the average LSA member. 

This year’s lightning talk topic is Aha! Moments. Presenters will focus on a time in their professional life when they came to a sudden and profound insight, either by applying their linguistic perspective or by understanding the needs and requirements of the institutional setting. 

And there’s more! 

Planned/invited sessions

In addition to the above sessions, LEXING will also feature an organized session on the topic of authenticity in audio technology and the emergence of “deep fakes,” as well as sessions geared toward linguists who are currently in academia and would like to explore other career options, offered in collaboration with the Linguists Beyond Academia (LBA) Special Interest Group.  

There will also be a social event/mixer - with small nosh and drink provided! 

Important Dates

  • July 1, 2024: Submission portal opens 
  • August 18: Submission deadline for LEXING (AOE) 
  • October 15: LEXING acceptance decisions are announced
  • September 27: Early bird registration begins 
  • November 15: Regular registration begins
  • December 12: Late registration begins
  • January 9-12, 2025: The LSA Annual Meeting takes place

Submission Instructions

Submissions will open on July 1 and close on August 18, 2024. The submission link will be posted here on July 1. Acceptance decisions will be announced by October 15, 2024.

General Requirements

  1. The submitting author must be a member of the Linguistic Society. Nonmembers may join here.
  2. Any member may submit one single-author 20 Minute Talk abstract (or be the corresponding author on a multiple-author talk) and one single-authored 5 Minute Lightning Talk abstract (or be the corresponding author on a multiple-author talk). There are no limits on the number of times someone can be a co-author on submissions that have another person as the corresponding author. Submissions to the regular LSA program do not count toward this limit. There is also no limit on the number of times someone can appear in a Fishbowl proposal.
  3. Presentations must be delivered by one or more individuals listed as author(s) on the originally submitted abstract.
  4. Presenters must pre-register for the meeting.
  5. Authors may not submit identical abstracts for presentation at LEXING and at the general LSA program or a meeting of one of the co-locating Sister Societies. Authors who do so will have both abstracts removed from consideration. Authors may submit substantially different abstracts for presentation at LEXING and at the LSA meeting or a co-locating Sister Society meeting.


Proposals should thoroughly but succinctly explain the problem to be posed and its relevance to LEXING participants, and provide names for a potential facilitator and up to 4 potential initial participants, as well as the perspective/expertise that each brings. Please also note whether any participants in your proposal have experience with the fishbowl format (such as at the LingComm 2021 or 2023 conferences); this is not required but will help us anticipate how we can best support you and the success of your session. The suggested word limit for fishbowl proposals is 200 words, excluding information about the facilitator and participants. However, since this is a new format, we will accept deviations from this limit as needed. 

If you have an idea that you think might be a good fit  for a fishbowl, but aren’t sure who might be a good facilitator or participants, that’s okay. You can reach out to us to talk about whether your idea is a good fit for the format and if your topic is accepted, we’ll work with you to flesh out the remaining details. If we receive several proposals addressing similar topics, we may suggest the submitters work together on a single fishbowl. 

20 Minute Talks 

For this track, we will accept LEXING-relevant abstracts that follow the standard LSA guidelines for content development, which can be found here, as well as less traditional content ranging from case studies or abstracts that center application to products or processes at scale, to combining business with scientific considerations, the development of linguistically-informed ideas or insights over time, or discussions of other occasions in the professional life of the presenter when a linguistically-informed approach came into play.

Authors are encouraged to consult the LSA Guidelines for Inclusive Language when drafting their abstract and identifying examples to illustrate the phenomenon under discussion. 

Abstract Format Guidelines

  1. Abstracts must be submitted in PDF format.
  2. The main text for the abstract must fit on one 8.5x11 page. An optional second page may be used for the presentation of linguistic examples, plots, figures, tables, other diagrams, and references, or these can be integrated into the 1-page abstract. Margins may be no smaller than 1/2 inch and font no smaller than 10 points. 
  3. Make sure to anonymize your submission. Do not identify yourself by name or by citations in the abstract text or in the file name. 
  4. Abstracts that do not conform to the format guidelines will not be considered

5 Minute Lightning Talks

The maximum proposal length for a 5 Minute Lightning talk is 300 words. In your submission, describe your Aha! moment and how it impacted you. Submissions will be evaluated on their relevance to linguistics and to the session theme, how compelling it would be for the LEXING audience, how engaging the storytelling style is, and evidence that the presenter is prepared to stay within the 5-minute limit. 

Deadline for submitting proposals: August 18, 2024, AOE (anywhere on earth).

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the organizers of LEXING? 

The organizing committee for LEXING is made up of Daniel Ginsberg, Gretchen McCulloch, Hadas Kotek, Sarah Ouwayda, and Margaret Vitullo. Daniel, Gretchen, Hadas, and Sarah are linguists who work in different professions outside academia––including non-profit management, the tech industry, and science communication. Margaret is a PhD sociologist who also works outside academia as the Executive Director of the LSA. This group is distinct from the Linguists Beyond Academia Special Interest Group (LBA), and is collaborating with our wonderful colleagues in LBA on Annual Meeting programming targeted toward linguists who wish to explore new career paths and those who are on them already.  

Who is the intended audience for LEXING? 

There are two kinds of audiences who LEXING aims to serve. The first is linguists engaged in any kind of non-academic profession, whether currently employed or not. This includes tech (and other) industry, government, non-profits, freelancers, higher ed staff and administration, and other sectors. Any person who identifies as a linguist is welcome, whether their training is formal or informal. The second intended audience is linguists who are exploring diverse career paths

Our goal is to foster a community of career linguists, embracing newcomers and easing career transition points so that leaving academia need not entail leaving the broader linguistic community––but also providing support beyond that point, so we can learn from each other and stay connected to our roots even as we grow in different directions in our careers. 

I am not sure I have anything to submit, can I still attend LEXING? 

Yes! Everyone is welcome to attend. If you are an early career linguist considering diverse career paths, you are welcome to participate as an audience member, even if you have nothing to submit. If you are a linguist working outside academia, we recognize that you may not be engaged in research or in linguistics or language-related work on a daily basis; nonetheless we are convinced that you will both contribute to and gain from attending and you are very welcome! 

We have designed the Call for Papers to allow an easy path for those who may require an accepted presentation in order to receive employer sponsorship to attend; anyone with non-academic work experience will have something to contribute to fishbowls, and many will have Aha! moments for lightning talks. 

I submitted an abstract to the regular program but I now think it would fit better at LEXING. Can I submit the same work to LEXING, too? 

Please do not submit the same work to both tracks. If you would like an existing submission to the general LSA program to instead be considered for LEXING, please indicate that in the LEXING submission portal. 

I would like to submit an abstract for LEXING but need more information to navigate my company's internal approval process, and/or I expect to need more time that the current deadline allows. 

We are happy to answer additional questions and/or work with you to navigate internal deadlines. Please reach out to us as meetings@lsadc.org and be sure to put LEXING in the subject line.

Can LEXING presenters submit papers to the LSA proceedings? 

Yes, LEXING presenters are welcome to submit papers that are developed from their talks to the LSA Proceedings. Please be sure to check with your employer concerning any needed clearances or approvals before submitting a paper to the LSA Proceedings.  The deadline for submitting to the LSA Annual Meeting Proceedings is generally 2-3 months after the Annual Meeting. 

I have questions you haven’t answered here. 

Please reach out to us with any questions! We are happy to answer questions and help you think through how to put together a proposal if you are not sure how to proceed. Reach us at meetings@lsadc.org  and be sure to put LEXING in the subject line.

Sponsorship Information

We invite corporate and other sponsorships of the LSA Annual Meeting and the newly established LEXING program. Information on sponsorships will be posted shortly. Please check back!